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Catherine Opie: Inauguration
Foreword by Deborah Willis. Text by Eileen Myles.
Celebrated photographer Catherine Opie (born 1961) has long documented the faces and landscapes of American communities, both inside and outside the mainstream. The subjects of her highly regarded portraits have ranged from California surfers, friends and fixtures in LGBT communities, high school football players and the artist herself. In this series of photographs documenting the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Opie broadens her focus to an expanded community of Americans: on January 20, 2009, over one million people gathered on the national mall to see the swearing in of America's first black president, united by their pride at what had been accomplished and a collective hope for the future. In the tradition of Robert Frank's photographs of the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and William Eggleston's 1976 Election Eve series, Opie's Inauguration, a series of 100 photographs, offers an intimate political and personal view of one of the most public days of a nation. Accompanying texts by author, curator and photo-historian Deborah Willis and writer Eileen Myles address the significance of Opie's achievement with this body of work and further explore the wonder, elation and the self-conscious anticipations of this historic moment.
Featured image is reproduced from Inauguration.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Opie commemorates the inauguration of the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, in shots of personal candor and celebratory energy.
Los Angeles Review of Books
Inauguration invites comparison to Robert Frank's photos of the 1956 and 1984 Democratic National Conventions and to Eggleston's 1976 journey "Election Eve." Her shots of Navy honor guardsmen and campaign operatives recall the immigrant Frank's almost anthropological fascination with American democracy's secret players, its disciplined functionaries, and the beseeching and indifferent masses.
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FROM THE BOOK
"Opie crystallizes a moment of faith in government, framing her subjects wearing their identity as Americans on sweatshirts, souvenir hats, scarves and buttons. Details invite us in closer to read discarded newspaper articles, event programs, and photographs on a quilt featuring images of the Obama family. She also captures jubilant members of marching bands with dancing drum majors as often found at these types of ceremonies. The amazing energy prompted the photographer to recall Election Day in her predominantly African-American Los Angeles neighborhood in 2008: 'I've never seen a line at the polls, but today we had to wait an hour and a half to vote…we're going to see an unprecedented number of voters out, and that's really exciting.'"
Deborah Willis, excerpted from Framing Hope: Obama's Inauguration in Inauguration.
"Not long ago, Obama appeared to be the figure who might bridge divides, end the culture wars, and usher in a “post-racial” era. Instead, the polarization has intensified. Despite his best efforts to appear self-effacing when he could have been proud, pliable when he could have been firm, he still became the image of fear, the specter of all the things that “we Americans” are not. Immigrants, college students and youths, and David Wojnarowicz once again became targets.
Opie’s Inauguration, like William Eggleston’s 1976 Election Eve series, depicts the President and the First Lady only by proxy, as flickering dots on mobile LED video screens. Instead she places her faith in the crowds. Lines gather patiently. People smile. They sell t-shirts and calendars. They mug and hang from the White House fence. They pose beside the building nameplate for the National Council of Negro Women. They greet the anti-war protestors and the people protesting Guantanamo with cameras, not jeers. The tone of Inauguration is one of calm anticipation.
We’re still waiting."
—Jeff Chang, excerpted from his January 20, 2012 review of Catherine Opie: Inauguration in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
GREGORY R. MILLER & CO.
USD $50.00 | CAN $67.5 UK £ 45
Pub Date: 9/30/2011
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